No. 250

8 Exposures...with Britta Hershman.

Patrick Tobin | Dec 23, 11:00 AM

Hello again, friends, and welcome back to 8 Exposures! This week we spoke to Britta Hershman

1) Q: What kind of polaroid camera(s) do you use?

A: For most of my instant photography, I use my trusty green OneStep Express, aka, the Turtle. Actually, I’m mildly obsessed with all things Italian, so I call it by its Italian name, la Tartaruga. It’s cute, green, and round, and I found it in a thrift shop in Naples, Italy. It was my first instant camera, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I also use a Spectra, a Polaroid 330 for Type 100 peel-apart film, and a Polaroid Land Camera 800 for Type 40 series roll film, nicknamed the Dino because of its impressive size and weight. And also, sadly, because film for it is nearly extinct. It’s difficult to find, and the few films that are left have been expired for decades and are often dried out. So the chances of ending up with actual photos are slim, but once in a while it does happen. And every time it does, I’m reminded of why I love instant photography.

2) Q: Why do you like instant photography?

A: It’s a thrill to create tiny but complete works of art with a camera. Art that is instantly finished and ready to be shared, framed, or just admired. I love that there’s no post processing in pure instant photography: everything has to happen in-camera. The limited controls of instant cameras require me to be thoughtful, creative, and attentive, and I thrive on that challenge.

3) Q: What is your earliest memory of instant film?

A: I remember my grandparents in Germany using a Polaroid camera when I was little. I’ll never forget being spellbound by the photos being ejected from the camera and slowly appearing.

4) Q: What’s your favorite Impossible film type?

A: I’m crazy about monochrome photography, and I can’t get enough of the Silver Shade films — they speak to my photographer’s soul. I love their dreamy, timeless look, especially for capturing trees, landscapes, and historic subjects. My favorite is the PX 600 Silver Shade Black Frame edition: beautiful monochrome shades, a bold frame, and the option of turning the images into versatile transparencies. What more could you want? It’s perfect.

5) Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

A: Trees, landscapes, and historic places. I like timeless scenes where the viewer can’t easily tell in which decade or perhaps even in which century the photo was taken. When composing shots, I look for telltale signs of modern civilization and keep them out of my photos whenever possible. One of my favorite subjects is a magnolia tree near our house. Buildings and street lights are nearby, but my secret is kneeling or lying down and aiming the camera up towards it. That way, no man-made objects appear in the photo; the tree stands alone. It could be anywhere or nowhere, which appeals to me. My magnolia definitely holds the honor of being the most photographed tree in the neighborhood!

6) Q: Tell us about a project you’re working on.

A: I’m experimenting with combining Impossible photos with alternative and hybrid printing techniques. I’ll shoot a photo on Impossible film, scan it, and make a digital negative, which I use to create contact prints. It was exciting to learn to print cyanotypes, and now I’m also working with liquid emulsions on glass. Finding new ways to give life to my beloved instant photos in this way has been both challenging and rewarding.

7) Q: Who are your favorite photographers, instant or otherwise?

A: I’m a fan of Richard Avedon’s photography. His dynamic portraits and dramatic monochrome style speak to me. I’m a bit awkward when photographing people, which is another reason I admire his work so much. My favorite instant photographer is my partner-in-crime Genevieve Neal. Not only has she been a source of inspiration, creativity, and encouragement for me personally, but her own instant photography speaks volumes. She makes magic happen with her SX-70, her Spectra, and her Super Shooter.

8) Q: If you could take a photo of anyone or anything what would it be?

A: Drop me in an open field with a single, solitary tree, and I’ll be perfectly happy. I would want to capture it all: different skies, clouds, angles, seasons, and moods, all personified by a single tree. Does a tree have moods, you ask? Of course it does. Just ask my magnolia.

Thanks very much to Britta for taking part in 8 Exposures! To see more of her photographic creations, visit her Flickr Photostream and her Blog

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